Posts Tagged With: experimental

The Glowing Man – Swans

When Swans reformed in 2010 with the release of ‘My Father Will Guide Me up A Rope To The Sky’, people perhaps may not have predicted that the band would ultimately start releasing some of the most defining albums of their career. Having released two phenomenal double-albums ‘The Seer’ and ‘To Be Kind’, Swans return with their latest tour-de-force, ‘The Glowing Man’. The new album follows on much from what its predecessors established, offering gargantuan slabs of experimental post-rock that are as cryptic and enigmatic as ever. Once again, this is another challenging album experience that certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, and one that is rather difficult to really put into words.

‘The Glowing Man’ continues much in the same vein as both ‘The Seer’ and ‘To Be Kind’, with each musician pushing along through noisy experimental tracks where everything is unrelenting yet brilliant. It’s in the uncompromising style that only Swans seem to have that we find what makes the music great. This is truly a head-space only they can create for us, with the result being something confusing yet powerful. Much of the album feels like a true companion piece to its predecessor ‘To Be Kind’, perhaps mostly in part to the similar motifs running throughout both albums (and perpetuated by the inclusion of the ‘Bring The Sun’ intro used on the previous album), but all together much tighter than they’ve ever managed. It all works well in providing a bookend to what is perhaps one of Swans’ most phenomenal and powerful musical chapters.

As with many albums by Swans, there is that incredible experimental element that comes with Swans’ music that makes it all a challenging listen. Combining elements of drone into their unique sound, we’re presented with something that occupies the foreground, whilst refusing to let the listener go. It’s all together a somewhat intimidating experience, and one that is truly difficult to put into words. It’s perhaps in this challenging yet unique style that only Swans have that we find the main focal point of many of their bodies of work, what it is that drives the albums along and gives it that quality that is so enthralling.

It seemed like Swans were at the height of their creativity with the release of 2012’s ‘The Seer’, and to have followed that album up with phenomenal ‘To Be Kind’ was an impressive feat. It now seems though that Swans have repeated this once again, with ‘The Glowing Man’ being a perfect follow up to its predecessor. Although there’s a great varience in Swans music, from their early no-wave years to their dark alternative rock years in the 90s, it seems that this current wave of music is what they were always meant to do, with it being perhaps some of the best music Swans have ever released. Whether or not ‘The Glowing Man’ signals the end of this current era of Swans or not, it’s certainly great to have seen it all in action.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Cloud of Forgetting
  • The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
  • Frankie M
  • The Glowing Man

Swans’ 14th studio album ‘The Glowing Man’ is out now.

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Jerusalem In My Heart – If He Dies, If If If If If If

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Producer, musician and composer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh follows on with the physical releases of his Jerusalem In My Heart project with the release of his sophomore album effort ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’, featuring Moumneh and various guests on sound, and Charles-Andre Coderre tackling the visual components (including the album artwork). Following on from his 2013 debut album effort of ‘Mo7it Al-Mo7it’, Moumneh continues his efforts of combining traditional Arabic musical techniques and motifs into modern and experimental sounds, painting up a phenomenal and driving album experience expressing political and personal concepts. The core of Arabic performance styles run dominant throughout the album, much like the debut album, though this time much more deconstructed in places, combined with new and unusual techniques to create a challenging yet cohesive album experience.

‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ sees Moumneh really immersing himself into a musical project, using his many skills and techniques to really push forward a creative album effort. Anchored by traditional motifs, we see a truly Arabic album experience become morphed and re-designed into something both modern and new. By using experimental techniques, and a number of guest musicians including Pierre-Guy Blanchard (whose debut album on Constellation Moumneh recorded mixed and produced) on percussion, and Constellation Records founder Ian Ilavasky on guitar, Moumneh pushes forward a record that blurs the lines in terms of creating and approaching music. Western and Arabic music become parallel on the album, everything sounding incredibly cohesive, all complimenting and challenging each other at different turns.

From their evocative live performances to their challenging albums, Jerusalem In My Heart have shown great strength in their resolve to incorporate experimental techniques in a strong and understood way. Those familiar with Moumneh’s work, both as a producer and composer will most likely know of the almost inaccessible motifs of his many projects, and whilst this shows Moumneh as a wonderfully creative and expressive artist, it does result in ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ becoming an album that is limited to a very few people. With Moumneh’s constant challenging of music structure and technique, it’s no wonder why this album can feel so inaccessible at times.

Moumneh’s latest work is one that pushes forward the creative artists talents and techniques to great levels. The project’s debut album established an innovative act who had a clear understanding of what they want to achieve in their music. ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ shows the project as being even more ambitious and creative as their debut suggested, with there being great strides taken to really push forward a phenomenal and powerful album effort. Those who are open to music of an experimental nature, techniques that combine various cultures and differing genres will find ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ to be an incredibly pleasing and rewarding album, and one that definitely challenges for all the right reasons.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • A Granular Buzuk
  • 7ebr El 3oyoun
  • Ta3mani; Ta3meitu
  • Ah Ya Mal El Sham

Jerusalem In My Heart’s second studio album ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ is out now on Constellation Records.

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Dream Memory – Ken Camden

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Musician and composer Ken Camden of Implodes, returns with his third solo studio album ‘Dream Memory’. The new album sees the musician creating a world of subtle tones, slowly building everything up using an array of instruments and techniques at his disposal. Everything has resulted in an interesting album experience, where lines between ambient, electronic and experimental music are all blurred, everything instead combining effortlessly into one cohesive vision, all packaged and presented in a very strong manner. Though a little inaccessible and unusual in places, ‘Dream Memory’ offers up some incredibly interesting and emotive musical moments, showcasing some of the best of Camden’s abilities.

‘Dream Memory’ sees Camden really utilizing many of his skills and techniques in order to create an engrossing and interesting album experience. There’s many different ideas and concepts being presented on the album, all of which lull the listener into a mysterious and slightly ominous world. Everything feels very textural on the album, with each note feeling rather meticulously placed on the album itself. Although there’s a rather dark and unsettling impression given off by most of the tracks on the album, everything still feels beautiful and emotional, with a few tracks coming across as some of the best material Camden has presented thus far.

Camden has pushed out some very nice ideas on his latest solo record, many of which all come together nicely into a cohesive album experience, full of sonic textures and ethereal concepts. At times, certain ideas feel a little disjointed, with somewhat harsh musical elements dominating the tracks instead of the more relaxing and gentle elements that seem to originally establish the album. Whilst this affects the overall album somewhat, it also works in other ways, showcasing a diverse range of ideas and concepts being presented by Camden, instead of similar sounding tracks that suggest little ingenuity.

Although certain elements come across as a little confusing and polarizing, ‘Dream Memory’ sees Camden creating a wonderful album experience, one where experimental notions and ideas don’t run away into areas of inaccessibility, but instead elevate the base ideas being presented. It’s arguable that ‘Dream Memory’ isn’t the strongest of Camden’s material in his career thus far, though it is one that is deserving of attention. Camden presents a world of intrigue and mystery, one where questions are never answered, but one is left feeling satisfied, if somewhat confused.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Time Bend
  • Curiosity
  • Brain Work
  • Asleep at the Wheel

Ken Camden’s latest album ‘Dream Memory’ is out now on Kranky Records.

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Capturas del Único Camino – Damián Anache

First posted on echoesanddust.com.

Argentine composer Damián Anache sets the way for this first solo album endeavor ‘Capturas del Único Camino’. The new album features Anache completely immersing himself into experimental ambient music, utilizing every trick and technique at his disposal to create and present a challenging and driving album experience. The real driving power of ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ is in how Anache created the music initially, which involved various source material (be it acoustic instruments ,vocal recordings and field recordings) all being run through an algorithm created by Anache himself. The result is a slowly moving meditative piece that hardly evolves as it progresses, but instead lulls one into a mysteriously captivating world.

 ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ comes across as a very intelligent and driving album experience, one in which the techniques in how the music itself has been composed is every bit as relevant as the music itself. The algorithm made by Anache himself results in the creation of music that moves at glacial paces, slowly moving in and out of focus, constantly interpreting sounds and data until the music is created within. The album itself is more than just its experimental notions, as the result of the ideas and techniques is an engrossing album experience that slowly engulfs the listener.

There are many merits to ‘Capturas del Único Camino’, which sees Anache completely embracing experimental music with great confidence, utilizing his many talents to create something where the experimental elements don’t overtake the accessibility of the music itself. Although there’s many enjoyable elements to the album, it’s rather sparse sound, combined with a fairly challenging nature overall, might perhaps turn away those expecting something more on the ambient or classical end of things than the experimental side.

Anache’s first solo album comes across as a difficult album to swallow at times, though its experimental notions give it great gravitas, pushed further by the actual result of the experimental notions themselves, which create an interesting album experience. The experimental ideas being used by Anache may come across as a gimmick to some, though Anache has managed to push out an incredibly impressive album experience, somewhat reminiscent of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, both in terms of the tone of the music itself, and the methods used to create it. It’s a strong album experience, and one that showcases Anache’s talents in a great light.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Paisaje Primero
  • Paisaje Propio
  • Paisaje Artificial
  • Paisaje Natural

Damián Anache debut solo album ‘Capturas del Único Camino’ is out now.

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Lise G. – Alexandre St-Onge

Experimental artist Alexandre St-Onge presents his latest release on Oral Records titled ‘Lise G.’ The new release features St-Onge’s soundtrack for the art exhibition of the same name. On this release, St-Onge pushes out his trademark experimental style to great effect, offering another unusual, bizarre and oddly engrossing sound experience full of incredibly weird concepts and ideas. As with many of St-Onge’s releases, there’s a very inaccessible element running throughout the album, making it a difficult listen, but to those who find the world of St-Onge so engrossing will find ‘Lise G.’ to be another wonderful insight into a weird and unusual world that only St-Onge knows.

‘Lise G.’ comes across as quite radical in terms of its experimental notions. An electronic ambient notion runs throughout the album, setting the scene for an unsettling world. Much of the actual music feels incredibly sparse, with a main driving force being a bizarre vocal track that sounds perhaps like St-Onge choking himself, forcing his voice into weird and unusual shapes  that paints the picture of something that only St-Onge understands. It’s by no means an accessible release, coming across as too weird an exercise to exist and perhaps one of St-Onge’s most challenging releases to date, though its in St-Onge’s approach to the whole notion of production and creation where we find the oddly appealing element.

‘Lise G.’ is hardly a record that will astound and amaze people, though it will perhaps place listeners into a world of interpretation, where the sounds being conjured up place each and every listener into their own head-space, drawing the gap between the consumer and St-Onge himself. It’s perhaps arguable that this isn’t one of St-One’s most impressive releases in his extensive career, though it oddly enough seems to be one that really sticks around in the memory, constantly tempting those daring enough to give it another listen and see what new things they will discover.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Lise G.

Alexandre St-Onge’s latest release ‘Lise G.’ is out now on Oral Records.

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Svin – Svin

Svin pave the way for their experimental music notions with the release of their self-titled third album. The new album ‘Svin’ sees the band offering up a phenomenal and unrelenting barrage of psychedelic experimental music, bordering the lines of post-rock and experimental jazz. There’s an incredible energy to ‘Svin’, one that showcases great talent, as well as a real creative streak in producing something just that little bit different. At times, ‘Svin’ might come across as a little aggressive, but it is one that justifies its aggressive elements through brilliant showmanship and creative elements.

On their latest album effort, Svin demonstrate incredible artistic promise. ‘Svin’ offers an Odyssey of musical movements and techniques, showcasing a great range of different styles, all comprised together into one coherent structure.  ‘Svin’ offers up a varied style of instrumental tracks, and whilst from an outsider’s perspective they might seem to be clashing techniques, Svin manage to work everything together into one album experience, where everything seems to warrant its place on the album, whilst keeping everything interesting and exciting. It’s an exciting and exhilarating musical journey, and one that shows the best techniques in experimental notions. There’s a nice variety of heavy tracks partnered with more slower and downbeat ones, keeping the whole album experience refreshing and interesting.

Svin’s option to fuse together different genres works incredibly well, though combined with its rather experimental techniques, it makes the album experience one that is somewhat inaccessible, and perhaps off-putting to die-hard fans of the varying individual genres. Fans of post-rock or math-rock might find the more jazz-orientated tracks on the album somewhat unappealing, or even vice-versa. Some might be put off by Svin’s juggling of various genres, though for the most part it works incredibly well on their self-titled release, showing some incredible creative talent. The only real problem with ‘Svin’ is that it’s an incredibly short album, and one that seems to end just as it gathers up enough momentum.

Svin demonstrate wonderful musical technique on their latest effort, one that excites and sometimes confounds in oddly enjoyable ways. The record is perhaps a little too short at times, though it does result in an album experience where there’s absolutely no dead weight, and each track contributes wonderfully to the album itself. It’s a strong effort that really showcases Svin’s talents as a band, showing their ability to both conform to genre’s, and shape and bend their conventions at will, bringing out new and exciting ideas that haven’t really been explored before by other bands.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆ 4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Maharaja
  • Alt
  • Fuck John
  • Fede Piger

Svin’s latest album ‘Svin’ is out now.

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Inattendu – Fanny Alexandre

Inattendu cover art

Experimental artist Alexandre St-Onge teams up with his partner Fanny for their collaborative effort ‘Innatendu’, released under the title of Fanny Alexandre. The new release offers up an eclectic mix of experimental notions and ideas, many of which have been explored on previously through other collaborations on previous releases by Alexandre St-Onge. ‘Inattendu’ arguably sees Fanny taking the foreground, offering up ghostly ethereal vocals, accompanied by electronic ambient notions. Those who enjoyed previous Alexandre St-Onge releases such as 2007’s ‘Mon Animal Est Possible’ will find a fair amount to enjoy on ‘Inattendu’, which seems to deploy similar concepts and ideas of experimentation.

There’s a sparse element to ‘Inattendu’, which seems to deploy the briefest of instrumental passages to accompany Fanny’s vocal style. Everything results in a ghostly sounding musical experience, one that feels much more unsettling and sinister than some of St-Onge’s previous releases, though is equally as enjoyable. Many of the elements and techniques used on the EP feel rather held back for the most part, never pouring out into loud moments but instead remaining quiet and intimate, allowing for the music to speak for itself. The sparse elements of the album might disappoint some listeners, who might expect more layers of musical techniques in the music itself, though those open to what both artists are trying to express will more than likely find ‘Inattendu’ and enjoyable listening experience.

There’s very subtle elements to ‘Inattendu’, which comes across as another ethereal and ghostly album experience. At times the album suffers from repetitive qualities between each track, though this also works in favor of the album, tie-ing together each track to present an overall thematic theme.  ‘Inattendu’ is perhaps not St-Onge’s or Fanny’s most ambitious work the two artists have attempted, though there’s still much to enjoy, especially to fans of St-Onge’s very unusual and experimental style.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Tranche
  • Inattendu
  • Terrifiance
  • Genou

Fanny Alexandre’s latest album ‘Innatendu’ is out now.

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Rêves Sonores À Montréal – Stefan Christoff & Nick Schofield

Canadian Pianist and composer Stefan Christoff teams up with fellow Canadian Nick Schofield for the release of their collaborative album effort ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ (Sound Dreams in Montreal). The new album offers up an electronic ambient album experience, utilizing Schofield’s experimental electronic ideas and teaming them up with Christoff’s gentle piano accompaniments. The result of this partnership offers up an interesting album, one that is at times, quite thought provoking in terms of how its instrumentals, and the techniques used to create them, result in music that is for the most part, rather emotional, but also one that is incredibly relaxing.

‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ features many elements of a conventional ambient album, though there’s many elements and ideas at play that make the record feel anything but. Unconventional techniques and concepts work their way seamlessly into the shared vision of Christoff and Schofield, everything combining together into a cohesive album experience. Both Christoff and Schofield use their own respective talents to guide the album’s musical motifs in ways that highlight each other’s techniques, whilst also working well with each other to create an album experience. Everything results in a very enjoyable musical voyage, one that bursts forth from the incredible amounts of creativity from the two musicians.

Whilst the collaborative effort between the two artists results in a very cohesive and understandable album experience, there’s still a few instances, techniques and ideas that push the album into an unusual and inaccessible territory. Those expecting an ambient-styled album similar to the work of Brian Eno or even Stars of the Lid will most likely find ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ to perhaps be a little bit more than they bargain for, though those who enjoy music with much more of an experimental slant than the norm will find Christoff and Schofield’s collaborative effort to be an incredibly enjoyable album experience.

‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ isn’t the most conventional of album experiences, though it is one that can be more easily tapped into by most people, even with its experimental slants here and there. Christoff and Schofield’s respective talents combine effortlessly into a wonderful album experience, one that is perhaps one of Howl! Arts most enjoyable releases thus far. Christoff and Schofield both seem to have tapped in together into an equally shared vision on ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’, both complimenting each other with their own musical motifs, resulting in one wonderful album experience.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Altitude
  • Generation I
  • Tempête
  • Haunted Lands

Stefan Christoff & Nick Schofield’s latest album ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ is out now, available on Howl! Arts.

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A Sound of a Wooden Fish – Artur Maćkowiak / Grzegorz Pleszynski

Experimental artists Artur Maćkowiak and Grzegorz Pleszynski offer up their latest album experience ‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’. The new album sees Maćkowiak and Pleszynski combining their own respective talents into one highly experimental improvisational jazz album experience. ‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’ offers up a rather unusual though very enjoyable album experience, featuring jazz stylings reminiscent of Canada’s Michel F Cote, Sam Shalabi and Alexandre St-Onge various projects within the genre. There’s an incredibly inaccessible element running throughout the entire album, though those who have a keen interest in experimental music will find ‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’ to be a rather delightful and intriguing listening experience.

‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’ sees both Maćkowiak and Pleszynski combining many of their own talents into one big album experience that sees the two musicians sharing the same vision, and striving to create that vision. The album is full of experimental notions and ideas, though there’s an incredibly coherent structure to the whole project, giving the semi-improvised music incredible life and energy. Ideas and notions seem to come out from nowhere, showing how well Maćkowiak and Pleszynski surrendered themselves to the music they sought to create. As odd as everything is, there’s something incredibly interesting about the music that seems to suck the listener into a new and unusual world.

As with anything experimental, there is a lot of elements to the music. The album is almost something of a workout for the ears, with the long track lengths being something listeners will have to surrender to. The album itself is highly unpredictable, taking unusual turns here and there, and entering odd and weird musical territories that might be a bit much for the average listener. These are hardly criticisms though, and more warnings for the average listener, that this is not an album to be taken lightly, and is more aimed at those who view music as art.

Maćkowiak and Pleszynski’s latest album effort combines together many artistic talents into one shared coherent album experience. Experimental Jazz music can at times be a little tedious, depending on where it’s coming from, but Maćkowiak and Pleszynski instead draw out much more than just a random process, and instead present experimental jazz music that is actually incredibly enjoyable within its own rights. ‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’ might not be one of those albums you listen to over and over, though it’s definitely an album that’ll stick around in one’s mind after listening. Just like any strong piece of art would.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Part One
  • Part Two
  • Part Three

Artur Maćkowiak & Grzegorz Pleszynski’s latest album effort ‘A Sound of a Wooden Fish’ is out now.

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Shape Of Illusion – Sound Awakener

Shape of Illusion cover art

Experimental artist Sound Awakener presents his latest project under his moniker titled ‘Shape Of Illusion’. The new album comprises of 20 or so short recordings, each encompassing a different idea or concept. Sound Awakener’s idea here seems to be about presenting a large number of different ideas in one go, rather than creating a whole cohesive album experience where each song compliments each other. It’s a flawed concept, and one that might not have come across as well as Sound Awakener might have wanted to, though there’s some merit to the whole project as a whole.

What makes ‘Shape Of Illusion’ interesting is how so many different emotions, concepts and ideas are all presented by Sound Awakener. The album is made up of very short tracks, with no track lasting longer than two minutes, giving the sense that each song is perhaps an audio snapshot of some concept that Sound Awakener is trying to present. It’s an interesting idea, and it’s certainly interesting seeing the range of styles in the music itself. Tracks seem to range from classical inspired tracks to much more experimental ideas. To an extent it is almost reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Ghost’ album, though much less refined.

Sound Awakener certainly has a very grand idea he’s trying to present with ‘Shape Of Illusion’, though it doesn’t feel as though it’s come across as well as he might have liked. The album itself seems to come across as a compilation album, rather than a full album experience, which would have been okay if the majority of the tracks were interesting. A lot of the tracks seem incredibly unstructured, making it a rather difficult listening experience. Whilst one or two songs certainly sound nice, there’s actually not a lot present on ‘Shape Of Illusion’ that is actually all that memorable.

Perhaps Sound Awakener has bitten off more than he can chew with ‘Shape Of Illusion’, which comes across as a nice idea, but poorly executed. The more enjoyable elements on the album itself don’t seem to last nearly as long as they should do, with the majority of the album being made up of a large number of repetitive and dull sounding tracks. Perhaps Sound Awakener should focus his efforts on making the music sound much more structured and cohesive, as there’s evidence of good talent in a few of the tracks. As an album though, there’s not really that much worthy of interest here.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Dance Of The Drops
  • Frozen Eyes

Sound Awakener’s new album ‘Shape Of Illusion’ is out now.

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